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Brussels, 10 July 2007

Television without frontiers: Commission issues warning to Spain for not complying with television advertising rules

The Commission has today sent Spain a letter of formal notice for failing to comply with the television advertising rules contained in the "Television without Frontiers" Directive. A report by an independent consultant revealed numerous and frequent infringements of the rules by the major Spanish television channels. The infringements relate particularly to the limit stipulated by the Directive, of 12 minutes per hour for spot advertising and teleshopping.

Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Information Society and Media, said "Spain has not taken the requisite measures to ensure effective compliance with all the provisions of the "Television without Frontiers" Directive. Everything must now be done to remedy this situation and to establish a genuine internal market for audiovisual media services".

Compliance with the rules contained in the "Television without Frontiers" Directive was monitored in two stages in Spain, between 1 May and 30 June 2005 and then via a sample of one week per month from July 2005 to July 2006. This revealed, in particular, an incorrect interpretation of the rules contained in Article 18(2). Spain interprets "spot advertising" too narrowly, with the result that in many cases advertisements now exceed the Directive's limit of 12 minutes per hour. The second infringement which the Commission found Spanish television channels frequently committing relates to the rule in Article 11(4) of the Directive concerning the interval of 20 minutes between advertising breaks.

Today's decision by the Commission is all the more significant because it comes just a few months before the entry into force of the new Directive on Audiovisual Media Services Without Frontiers, which maintains and confirms the limit of 12 minutes per hour for spot advertising and teleshopping.

The Commission has therefore sent Spain a letter of formal notice requiring it to fulfil its obligations under the "Television without Frontiers" Directive. The Spanish Government now has two months within which to respond to the concerns expressed in that letter.


The "Television without Frontiers" Directive was adopted in 1989 (see IP/91/898) and amended for the first time in 1997 (see IP/97/552). On 13 December 2005 the Commission proposed amending the "Television without Frontiers" Directive in order to take account of rapid technological changes and developments in the audiovisual services market such as video on demand, mobile television, and audiovisual services via digital television (see IP/05/1573 and MEMO/06/208). On 24 May 2007 the European Parliament and the Council reached agreement on the proposal (see MEMO/07/206). The new Directive on audiovisual media services is due to enter into force at the end of 2007 (see IP/07/706). Member States will then have 24 months to incorporate its provisions into national law.

For further information:
Press Pack about the new Directive on audiovisual media services without frontiers:

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